England odds-on to take advantage of Australia's woes
Never write off the Australians. It's a pretty solid rule of thumb, but if ever there was a reason to doubt that theory, it is now - in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal, which has led to the banning of their two star batsmen, David Warner and Steve Smith; in the absence of their three star bowlers - Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, and when their opponents, England, are the No.1-ranked side in ODI cricket.
That's certainly the view of the odds-setters at Bet365, who have made England overwhelming favourites in the two-horse race that gets underway at The Oval on Wednesday. England are 1/3 to seal victory in the five-match series, with Australia at 12/5. More specifically, the prospect of England winning the series 5-0 is a not-outlandish 5/1, whereas the price for Australia to do likewise is a rather more improbable 50/1.
And given that England have been passing 350 for fun in recent outings, and two seasons ago posted 444 against Pakistan at Trent Bridge, they are also favourites to post the highest score of the series - they are 4/9 compared to Australia's 13/8.
And yet, funnily enough, that adage about the Australians does still seem to apply given that the shortest odds for the precise series score is 2/1 for an England victory by three wins to two. The implication being that they will compete as they always do, but will be no match in the final analyis.